This Sunday Coughlan took to the Golden Globes virtual red carpet in a stunning, pastel yellow Molly Goddard gown, complete with a Ply Knits cropped black cardigan and De Beers jewellery.
The look? Amazing. The make-up? Amazing. We’re all in agreement on those facts. But that didn’t stop one Twitter user from leaving a negative comment.
“The fat girl from Bridgerton is wearing a black cardigan at the Golden Globes,” they tweeted late Sunday night. “bc no matter how hot and stylish you are, if you’re a fat girl there will always be a black cardigan you think about wearing, then decide against, but ultimately wear bc you feel like you have to.”
The user has since gone on to try and defend their use of “fat” as a “descriptor,” including identifying themselves as a “fat person”. Nicola’s elegant response and subsequent follow-up was the powerful reply we’ve come to expect from the actress.
“I thought the cardigan looked ace,” Coughlan replied. “Molly Goddard used them on her runway with the dresses that’s where the idea came from, also I have a name.”
Short, simple, effective; rapturous applause all round.
Later on Monday night, Coughlan followed up her reply with a string of tweets that shared a simple message: judge my art, not my body.
She began by resharing her Guardian article from 2018, written in response to a theatre critic referring to her as an “overweight little girl.”
“So I wrote this two years ago for the Guardian but I just thought I’d share it again,” she wrote. “TLDR: Can we judge actors for their work and not their bodies.
“Also can we please stop asking women about their weight in interviews, especially when it’s completely irrelevant. I’m seeing a lot of interviews from 10 years ago where people go ‘Oh weren’t the questions so inappropriate!’ Unfortunately it’s still happening.”
She continued, “Every time I’m asked about my body in an interview it makes me deeply uncomfortable and so sad I’m not just allowed to just talk about the job I do that I so love. It’s so reductive to women when we’re making great strides for diversity in the arts, but questions like that just pull us backwards.”
“Also, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, I’m not a body positivity activist, I’m an actor. I would lose or gain weight if an important role requirement. My body is the tool I use to tell stories, not what I define myself by.”
“So yeah, it’s 2021, it would be nice if we didn’t have to keep having this conversation. I would really love to never be asked about it in an interview again, also I have so many other things I love to talk about, I’m Irish so I can talk till the cows come home.”
Imagine being granted an audience with Nicola Coughlan and that is the path you want to go down. But anyway, congratulating her for speaking out on the subject feels a little trite, because she really shouldn’t be having to do it, and we really shouldn’t still be here.
At the same time, while some people are still clearly just-not-getting-it, having stars with this kind of power, bravery, platform and influence like Coughlan, like Jameela, like Lizzo, repeatedly hammering home these messages will make them finally, one day, stick.
Where there are still people who believe in spreading hate and cruelty, with comments that dehumanise and attack, we need those who believe in kindness, generosity and good quality of character to come forward, and shout even louder for the people at the back.
In my opinion, those are the things worth being measured on.